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Arts, Culture & Religion

Proposed Townhome Development On West Side Could Take Out One Of Glendale’s ‘Supermercados’

A photo of a Latin man hands hold shopping trolley in supermarket aisle.
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A proposed residential development could make accessing fresh food more difficult in Salt Lake City's Glendale neighborhood.

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New townhomes could be coming to Salt Lake City’s west side, and the new construction would replace the Latino supermarket that serves the community there — Tejeda’s Market.

For many in the Glendale neighborhood, it’s a walkable distance to buy produce. There’s fresh fruit and vegetables — along with Hispanic specialties like a carniceria, pan dulce and piñatas.

Glendale Community Council member Turner Bitton said losing a grocery store is concerning, especially one that caters to a particular community. But he added there’s also an economic factor at play.

“There's just not enough population here in Glendale alone to sustain multiple supermarkets and to sustain those commercial opportunities,” Bitton said.

According to the proposal submitted to Salt Lake City’s Planning Division, store owner Fabian Tejeda is partnering with Axis Architects on the development. They want to create a residential and commercial establishment — a “live/work” area.

The Glendale Community Council held an online meeting Wednesday night to discuss the proposal.

Pierre Langue is design principal with Axis Architects. He said the development aims to increase population density in the area to support local businesses — like a pilates or photography studio.

Jennifer Frantz, a Glendale resident who grew up in the neighborhood, said she doesn't see this supporting local businesses because there aren't many left on the west side.

“There’s a lot of people that go to the supermarket specifically for the items they have there …” Frantz said. “They have items that you would never get at a normal grocery store [where] you can walk in and get a plate of Mexican food. And it's wonderful.”

KUER was unable to reach Tejeda and was told that he is out of town.

Bitton said it’s just the first of many developments the west side is about to see. He said he’s heard the concerns about what this means for the community’s identity.

“We're losing what I would consider a culturally significant commercial development in the form of the supermercado here in Glendale,” he said. “The identity of Glendale is so rooted in how diverse we are and the fact that we have people who live here from all over the world.”

Residents also said they’re worried about what replacing the market with townhomes could mean for buying groceries. Daniel Mendoza, a professor at the University of Utah, has studied food access on Salt Lake City’s west side.

He said for people who may not have a car or access to public transportation — losing a grocery store is a big deal.

“Before, a person could just walk two blocks and get to a fresh food place,” Mendoza said. “Now they have to take the time to walk 10 blocks, 15 blocks.”

He said replacing this type of location in the community can have health implications. Mendoza said not having access to healthy foods can lead to obesity, diabetes and other health problems later on.

Mendoza said it could also send a message to other developments around the city that it’s okay to build in these types of locations.

“It could actually cause a ripple effect where additional communities would be looking to essentially maximize profits and really at the expense of the health of the community members,” he said.

The next step is for the Salt Lake City’s planning commission to review the proposal.

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